The New York Jets have been slashing the payroll this offseason. In doing so, they got rid of their two top receivers just two years removed from a season during which they won 10 games and almost made the playoffs.
The exits of veteran wideouts Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall mean for a new chapter in the Jets’ offensive odyssey. A chapter with significantly fewer recognizable names.
Quincy Enunwa figures to be the No. 1 receiver. After him, nothing is certain.
With a few rookies and a jumble of young, inexperienced relative unknowns this should certainly be another interesting year for the New York Jets’ offense.
Projected Starters: Quincy Enunwa (WR), Robby Anderson (WR), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE).
Depth players to watch: Ardarius Stewart (rookie), Charone Peake, Chad Hansen (rookie), Jordan Leggett (rookie), Jalin Marshall (suspended for first four games), Devin Street
One big number: 14.4. The average number of games played in the NFL by the nine players listed above. The Jets’ tight ends and receiving corps is characterized by youth and inexperience. With the eventual release of Eric Decker (30), the oldest receiver of this bunch is now Devin Street (26), who may not even make the team out of training camp.
Enun-One: Make no mistake, Quincy Enunwa was the Jets No. 1 receiver last season. However, Enunwa is clearly the leader of these young receiving corps. The third year receiver out of Nebraska was often used by Chan Gailey as a wide receiver/tight end hybrid. That changes this year, as new offensive coordinator John Morton will likely be using true tight ends giving Enunwa the opportunity to put up some nice numbers as the team’s number one receiver.
Back to Back to Back: The Jets used three consecutive picks to attempt to upgrade their receiving corps in this year’s draft. They used their third rounder (No. 79 overall) on Alabama wideout ArDarius Steward and then their fourth rounder (No. 141 overall) on California wide receiver Chad Hansen. Nine picks later, they selected Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett 150 overall.
Youngster to watch: As mentioned before, the Jets have an abundance of youth at this position. The obvious choice for this category could be Quincy Enunwa. However at 25 with two seasons of NFL experience under his belt, on this team he’s more of a veteran. So I’m going to go with the Jets’ third round pick, ArDarius Stewart.
The Alabama product was a yards after catch monster back in college. He caught 54 passes for 864 yards and 8 touchdowns last season for the Crimson Tide and was named to the All-SEC first team.
With the second receiver competition seemingly wide open, a strong training camp and preseason can at the very least put Stewart right in the conversation.
Don’t forget about: Charone Peake. Peake was relatively quiet during his rookie year, totaling just 19 receptions for 186 yards without a touchdown. In the wake of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker’s departures, Peake has the chance to get more reps and more playing time.
The 2016 seventh round pick has had problems with drops, but at 6-foot-2, he is an ideal size for a wide receiver and possesses great speed as well. It’s always nice to see a late round draft pick such as Peake stick around, and that pick would be even better if the sophomore takes advantage of the Jets’ mixed bag of receiving depth and gets some quality chances.
Jet Factor: Austin Seferian-Jenkins/Jordan Leggett. Am I cheating by putting down two players? Perhaps, but I’m talking about the tight end position in general.
It’s no secret that Chan Gailey was reluctant to utilize the tight end position during the past two seasons. One of the biggest changes John Morton could make is an attempt to revive at the tight end position.
How it all goes well: Quincy Enunwa enjoyed somewhat of a breakout in 2016, serving as a rare bright spot in an otherwise dark season. If it all goes well, he takes the next step and tops 1,000 yards. Either Jordan Leggett or Austin Seferian-Jenkins help bring back the tight end position. Even if all goes right, I still see the Jets finishing within the bottom ten in total receiving yards. Keep in mind — they still need someone to throw them the ball.